UNICC is pleased to announce a strategic partnership with Veracode, a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader in AppSec services
Photo: UNV

UNICC and Veracode Partner for Robust Application Security Solutions

Cybersecurity is an increasingly important area for UN Agencies in getting their respective missions delivered. This includes security for DevOps and application development.

Application security (AppSec) is the process of developing, adding, and testing security features within applications to prevent security vulnerabilities against threats such as unauthorized access and modification. Its goal is to improve security practices and find, fix and prevent security issues within applications. AppSec encompasses the entire application lifecycle from requirements analysis, design, implementation, verification to maintenance.

UNICC is pleased to announce a strategic partnership with Veracode, a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader in AppSec services. Veracode offers a trusted partnership with UNICC, featuring volume discounts for UNICC Clients and Partner Organizations.

Veracode provides a consolidated platform for AppSec testing including its solutions of Static Analysis, Software Composition Analysis and Dynamic Analysis, as well as advisory support and best practices for AppSec deliverables and eLearning in secure coding for developers.

We are delighted to partner with UNICC and contribute to a programme that really makes a difference to UN agencies across the globe. Our mission is to help secure the world’s software for the benefit of all, and we empower organizations to make security a seamless part of the development process by providing access to industry-leading tools and experience.

Richard Terry, VP EMEA, APAC & LATAM at Veracode

UNICC AppSec solutions offer guidance and support for governance, application integration and security testing. Continuous application security management, with onboarding and securing applications, by running security testing tools such as Static Application Security Testing (SAST), Software Composition Analysis (SCA) and Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST).

Our application security work assists UN Agencies that are contributing every day to support humanitarian causes and to help people make the world a better place to live.

Joao Remedio, AppSec Team Leader

Veracode’s insightful reports, dashboards and seamless integration with developer tools (IDEs, CI/CD pipelines) help bridge gaps between development and security. In its partnership with UNICC, Veracode promotes the idea of DevSecOps and envisions that every software product is developed with secure code from the beginning.

AppSec experts at UNICC have years of experience with United Nations applications, platforms and websites. AppSec services and solutions follow the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) framework and revolve around application security testing through tools and automation, including secrets scan, static code analysis, software composition analysis, and dynamic analysis.

UNICC offers guidance and training on secure coding with industry-standard best practices, processes, and procedures. Current AppSec Clients include CITES, FAO, ICJ, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAD and UNOCT.

See the Application Security Solutions brief for more details. For more information, please reach out to business@unicc.org.

Photo: UNICC

UNICC Hosts NYC Students for Cybersecurity and Data Visualization Internships

UNICC academic partnerships flourish around the globe

UNICC is proud to host for the fifth consecutive year its college interns through Break Through Tech, an organization that works on breaking down barriers so women and individuals from underrepresented communities can ‘break through’ in tech education and tech careers. This gender parity initiative included mentorship and learning about cybersecurity and data visualization.

Beginning in 2018, with the goal to support SDG 4 – Quality Education and SDG 5 – Gender Equality, UNICC has been partnering with Break Through Tech (formerly Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in NY or WiTNY) on giving young women at the beginning of their careers the opportunity to experience a professional environment in the technology field (see 2022 and 2021 internship news).

We can’t compete in the digital age if we leave half of the available talent pool sitting on the sidelines. It’s that simple.

Judith Spitz, Founder and Executive Director of Break Through Tech, former CIO at Verizon

For the month of January 2023, UNICC welcomed City University of New York (CUNY) students Tahsin Hossein (Hunter College), Daralyn Plascencia (BMCC) and Shahi Shahnaj (City College), who worked both virtually and in-office with a variety of UNICC teams, from 4 to 20 January 2023, to learn about UNICC services and projects, the certain challenges teams face and overcome and the results of good teamwork.

Project on cybersecurity threat intelligence

With majors in computer science – bioinformatics, engineering and mathematics respectively, they all rose to the occasion of working with the Cybersecurity team to produce an annual report for the Common Secure Threat Intelligence Network service on the year’s threats.

In addition, they worked with the Communications team to hone their data visualization and communications skills to deliver reports and information on cybersecurity as well as the SDGs.

Gender parity initiative included mentorship and learning about cybersecurity and data visualization
Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

In the first days, UNICC provided a tour of the UN Secretariat and an introduction to the UN and UNICC. Then they set to work with the Cybersecurity team– in New York and remotely– to understand the cybersecurity landscape and the services UNICC provides to over 30 UN Agency partners, covering governance, architecture, UN Agency networking on cyber issues and threat intelligence, as well as organizational resilience and a spectrum of operational components.

The UNICC Threat Landscape Report they compiled provides an overview of UN cyber threats identified, contained and to which UNICC has responded.

Gender parity initiative included mentorship and learning about cybersecurity and data visualization
Credit: UNICC

Mentorship and learning

Mentorship and learning about cybersecurity and data visualization was central to the project. In addition, Break Through Tech students learned about UN and UNICC organizational culture and honed their skills in digital literacy and data visualization for communicating UNICC projects.

Our three CUNY students were brilliant – super ready to impress and get the jobs done in record time! Even in this post-COVID time of working in a hybrid fashion, they rose to the occasion and contributed to a real cybersecurity threat analysis with good visual and communications skills to make the information dynamic to the UNICC community.

Denian Ouyang, Junior Communications Officer (and mentor to the interns), UNICC

Research on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

They were given additional tasks to analyze and report on UNICC’s contributions to SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities Project as well as create some infographics and social media posts responding to the theme of ‘STEM needs women.’

Gender parity initiative included mentorship and learning about cybersecurity and data visualization
Credit: UNICC

Please join UNICC in encouraging diversity and inclusiveness: young people, women and those from disadvantaged backgrounds to get engaged with the UN family!

Gender parity initiative included mentorship and learning about cybersecurity and data visualization
Photo: UNICC
service management
Photo: UNICC

UNICC and ServiceNow Roundtable in Geneva

UNICC’s Clients bring on the value of cloud-based service management solutions

On 2 December 2022, UNICC and ServiceNow organized a roundtable event in Geneva to showcase the achievements of their strong and evolving partnership over the past few years. The main objective of the joint session was to learn from UNICC Partner Organizations about their service management implementations and establish a robust networking among them to further support each other in these kinds of projects.

The event began with opening remarks by Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC, Prado Nieto, Chief Business Relationship Management at UNICC, Anne-Sophie Watelet, Enterprise Account Executive at ServiceNow and Dino Minichiello, Sales Director at ServiceNow on how the partnership between UNICC and ServiceNow has supported innovative solution implementations at Client organizations including FAO, UNHCR and WTO.

It’s a pleasure for us to organize this roundtable to share with you all a few use cases of what we have achieved throughout our solid partnership with ServiceNow, in which we have designed unique, new and modern solutions and technologies from scratch for our partners including WTO, UNHCR and FAO to help them pursue their missions and achieve their goals.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

Nick Tzitzon, Chief Strategy & Corporate Affairs Officer at ServiceNow then provided an overview of the trajectory of growth for Service Now as well as its partnership with UNICC. With a focus on how the pandemic and other global events have affected organization’s abilities to adapt and to implement technology, Tzitzon emphasized the challenging process that organizations are grappling with to shift to current digital practices, with technology infrastructure and architecture that was typically designed from 40 or 50 years ago.

What UNICC has done as the gateway for ServiceNow into the UN and its member Agencies is very unique and extremely progressive. The opportunity we believe that exists from working together to help UNICC serve its member Agencies by creating unique, modern, disruptive, innovative solutions on the ServiceNow platform is one of the most exciting opportunities we have in the world.

Nick Tzitzon, Chief Strategy & Corporate Affairs Officer, ServiceNow

FAO, WTO and UNHCR are among the Clients who are benefiting from these new services. Below are use cases from FAO and WTO.

Delivering for FAO
Andrea Nagy, Client Support Officer at FAO then described the ServiceNow solutions of FAO’s Shared Service Center (SSC) and IT and Maintenance services which were adopted through the support of UNICC and ServiceNow. The Service Management platform has helped FAO:

  • Improve the client service experience with a consolidated platform to manage customer interactions
  • Standardize processes by using custom forms to gather all the relevant information
  • Improve customer experience by providing a portal to customers, with real-time status of their cases, sharing knowledge, and improving communication
  • Improve traceability by recording and tracking all communications, changes, activities and measure
  • Reduce effort for reporting by having automated reports in the platform
  • Measure the service level agreement (SLA)
  • Increase Client satisfaction feedback by sending out customer satisfaction survey automatically.

This implementation of this project consists of three phases, with the successful completion of Phase 1 in January 2022. This included the migration of incident management to ServiceNow, the transmission of SSC communication from 14 generic emails to service requests and assessing feedback from clients after launch. For Phase 2 and 3, FAO is working on:

  • Registration for external suppliers and clients
  • Development of internal metrics OLAs
  • Skills management and Machine Learning (ML)
  • Further automatization of processes
  • Oracle integration (data visibility from Oracle)
  • Additional language options (French and Spanish)
  • Virtual agent/chatbot
  • Mobile app for analysts
  • Problem management.
Credit: FAO

The FAO Service Management portal strives to enhance accessibility for its end users. In a prominent example, this includes FAO employees to be able to access the organization’s resources via Single Sign-On, to have a single integrated Service Management portal for SSC, IT, and Maintenance services and to have a knowledge base with easy-to-use search features for clients and analysts.

Delivering for WTO

Ronald Jans, Head, IT Services Branch at WTO then discussed how the joint UNICC and ServiceNow integrated Service Management solution has helped WTO enhance efficiency through better service delivery, assessing and assisting with updating their ten-year old service management system with automated processes.

The WTO ServiceNow implementation has full cloud security, cost efficiencies and enterprise business process support. It allows WTO to digitize and automate siloed processes, dramatically improving the service management experience across the organization. The platform optimizes processes, connects data and organizational entities and accelerates innovation at scale with a single platform for digital business.

On top of this, monitoring and reporting tools mean that WTO has metrics at their fingertips to meet indicators with quality performance data.

From WTO’s initial objective to migrate the legacy ITSM solution to a market leading solution like ServiceNow, UNICC has been the perfect partner to allow us to meet this objective. And to go far beyond. Going out on our own to manage such a project was not feasible in terms of budget nor resources necessary. The UNICC ServiceNow team has filled the missing gap. With UNICC, a fast and efficient path became available to migrate the legacy solution and improve many ITSM processes while providing valuable additional data invisible before but critical for ITSM governance.

Ronald Jans, Head of IT Services Branch, WTO

Onwards and Upwards
Active communications and collaboration has been established between the different partners that were in the roundtable, not only during the event but after it, and UNICC is proud to have fostered this kind of collaboration between partners who can learn from each other about streamlined and beneficial setup of ServiceNow for each of their enterprise programmes.

I want to thank all of the attendance, our friends from UNICC and our testimonials UNHCR, WTO and FAO. This was our first roundtable and what we want to create with you is a ServiceNow United Nations community. We want to learn from each other. We want to know how we can support and improve your missions with our technology.

Simona Turla, Global Service Provider, ServiceNow
Photo: UNICC

UNICC Builds on its Academic Partnerships with University of Valencia

UNICC has been working to expand its academic partnerships across the globe, offering internships, engaging in seminars, research, capstone projects and with possible employment. In early December, the Data and Analytics team with other UNICC team members met with colleagues at the University of Valencia (UV) to brainstorm innovation and collaboration opportunities. With a growing footprint at its Cybersecurity hub and Centre of Excellence in Valencia, UNICC hopes to expand its support and teamwork across the academic community.

Through its collaboration with universities and academic institutions around the globe, UNICC has shown its commitment to empowering young people with professional experience while benefiting from project support from students in an increasingly diversified workforce, enhancing the organization’s knowledge base and gaining access to new theoretical and technical knowledge and resources.

Some of the other recent collaborations include Polytechnico de Bari., University of Salento, New York University (NYU) Stern School of Business, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Breakthrough Tech (with Cornell Tech and City University of New York) and Valencia Polytechnic University (UPV). See more in UNICC news.

A University of Valencia committee visited UNICC to discuss common areas of digital business and technology, such as data science, Artificial Intelligence, low code and cloud projects. UV members shared their ongoing work from the School of Engineering, Computer Science and Human Resources (internships) areas.

During the visit, UNICC had representatives from its Data and Analytics, Solution Architecture, Microsoft Dynamics, Human Resources (talent) and Business Relationship Management teams.

The discussions brought out areas of common interest to start to build a relationship and dedicated projects in 2023. UNICC thanks the UV representatives for their productive visit.

Photo: UNFCCC

UNICC Cybersecurity and Data Solutions Support COP27 Climate Conference

UNICC team on the ground in Sharm El Sheikh helps UNFCCC with conference optimization

UNICC assisted with cybersecurity and data solutions for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 to 18 November 2022.

There were more than 100 Heads of State and Governments and 35,000 participants, including VIPs, country delegations, civil society organizations, coordination and management teams, technical specialist teams, UNFCCC and local staff, journalists, reporters and visitors. UNICC sent three cybersecurity and data experts to help out on the ground, in addition to providing remote support from Valencia.

Last year UNICC provided conference management, registration cybersecurity and data support to COP26. UNFCCC asked UNICC to continue this year with a number of services, including:

  • Virtual conference platform and infrastructure cybersecurity assessment
  • Onsite cybersecurity support
  • Data and analytics solutions to optimize information on participants, enhance data quality and confidence in registration data, with a view to enabling UNFCCC management to make informed decisions and gather insights from survey data.

Under my guidance as UNFCCC Director of Conference Services, that of the UNFCCC, Head of ICT and the respective team leads, the UNICC team on-site (and offsite) provided excellent support, particularly in the area of registration and accreditation. This enabled UNFCCC to successfully deliver a large-scale COP. The UNICC team showed absolute dedication, commitment and flexibility in being there to address the challenges and getting the issues resolved, often within minutes, especially during situations that needed immediate intervention. On top of this, the UNICC team on the ground were also able to manage some of their other prior commitments, which is commendable.

Laura Lopez, Director of Conference Affairs at UNFCCC

On-site and remote cybersecurity support for COP27
Under the leadership of the UNFCCC Cybersecurity Officer, UNICC was part of the Security Operations Center (SOC) team that supported UNFCCC and the Government of Egypt during COP27. UNICC was tasked with the vetting of the cybersecurity arrangements in place, as well as to participate in security operations during COP27 to ensure that a safe and secure information and cyber environment was provided for participants and delegates.

Activities in scope for UNICC’s review included a threat and risk assessment established prior to the conference, as well as a comprehensive security audit conducted by the main cybersecurity provider and the Egyptian CERT teams. The scope of the audit included conference facilities, network infrastructure, IT services, and end-user IT equipment and was followed by a remediation phase to address findings before the start of the conference.

Under UNFCCC supervision, UNICC participated in security incident management and response activities jointly with the main cybersecurity provider and the Egyptian CERT teams. Security operations were carried out by the SOC, itself embedded within the Network Operations Center (NOC) for enhanced interaction, and were supported by a Security Information and Event Monitoring solution (SIEM) deployed on-premises by the main cybersecurity provider specifically for the purpose.

During the conference, a UNICC team member served as a backup to the UNFCCC Cybersecurity Officer and worked on a shift basis to oversee the cybersecurity operations on behalf of UNFCCC during the sessions.

The UNICC team member interfaced with other SOC team members, the conference Infrastructure Lead Engineer, the NOC teams, the Conference Logistics Officer and on-site UNFCCC staff servicing the conference to address cybersecurity-related events and incidents.

Doing this, UNICC was responsible for assessing and evaluating reported cybersecurity-related events and alerts, daily reports issued by the teams, as well as for providing input to decision-making and follow-up recommendations to the UNFCCC ICT Lead as necessary. UNICC was also responsible for providing forensics investigation for cybersecurity-related incidents, as well as for providing regular threat intelligence updates prior and during the conference. In addition, UNICC teams undertook the cybersecurity assessment of the virtual conference platform.

As Head of UNFCCC ICT and Lead COP27 ICT Service Coordination, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the UNICC team for the high quality support we received on the cybersecurity front, which was very valuable to us navigating through this year’s conference.We were fortunate to have UNICC expertise in the SOC, jointly with the main cyber contractor and the Egyptian teams. UNICC’s on-site and remote contribution was excellent, in particular the additional support we received in the area of threat hunting and forensics work, which was key to driving incident handling throughout the conference. UNICC colleagues were great, reliable team players, and showed outstanding professionalism, dedication, and support even in stressful moments.

John Kiarie, Head of ICT at UNFCCC
Photo: UNICC

Data and analytics support
UNICC provided data and analytics support to UNFCCC for operational aspects. The UNICC data and analytics team focused on building data and analytics solutions to support the Conference Affairs, ICT and Operations coordination teams.

They created re-usable playbook and frameworks to manage workflows such as managing information on participants, support conference affairs team with registration and other formalities. They also worked to improve the data quality and confidence in registration data and enable UNFCCC leaders to make better decisions and gather insights from survey data, improving credibility with self-serve analytics on UNFCCC reporting platforms.

The team supported with high-level areas where to provide support:

  • Supported COP27 registration and accreditation data insights, with tools that supported real-time decision-making by UNFCCC senior management.
  • Provided optimal registration and accreditation services and development and implementation of the secretariat’s registration and accreditation standards.
  • Managed a COP27 client survey, a major reference and decision-making tool for UNFCCC senior management, management at large and Host Countries, as well as other conference managers in the UN system and intergovernmental systems.
  • Supported the Coordination Unit and Registration and Accreditation Management Team (RAMT) of the Conference Affairs division with responsibilities related to data analysis, data transformation and reporting. Worked under the general guidance of the respective Team Lead according to the area of specific assignments.

Data and Analytics team members, present in Egypt at the conference, also offered support for ad-hoc requests on stats and dashboards (e.g. on vaccinations, exceptions lists, etc.), maintaining, supporting and adapting existing dashboards as well as creating new ones based on requirements.

The high-quality data analytics solutions for the COP27 included client survey, registration and accreditation allowing for sophisticated insights and harnessing data to drive actionable analytics.

The team also liaised with ICT on the ground, adding additional data sources and technical issues, as well as an interactive client survey dashboard, a sentiment analysis for the client survey, interactive registration and accreditation dashboards and stable data infrastructure for ingest, storage and processing.

UNICC was proud to help with its successful cybersecurity and data solutions and support for UNFCCC at COP27 this year.

Photo: CTBTO

CTBTO 25th Anniversary Website Refresh

UNICC assists with refreshed CTBTO website for mission visibility and information for the organization’s 25th Anniversary

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) celebrated its 25th anniversary this fall with a high-level ministerial meeting and six countries (The Gambia, Tuvalu, Dominica, Timor-Leste, Equatorial Guinea, and São Tomé and Príncipe) ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, for a total of 176 state signatories. The organization also took the opportunity to upgrade its website to bring robust mission visibility and information to its many global stakeholders.

UNICC performed professionally in all aspects of this CTBTO website upgrade and migration, responding with spirit and an openness to all suggestions. They met all deadlines to deliver the site for CTBTO’s 25th anniversary in September.

The success of the project from the UNICC team (web development, project management and communications) was successful and demonstrates our view that UNICC is and will continue to be a strategic partner in digital business solutions. We had a winning team here who was able to deliver an agile project with high quality and a bit of magic.

Sunil Gupta, Chief Information Technology Officer, CTBTO

UNICC successfully delivered a website redesign and migration project for CTBTO, who sought out UNICC as a partner to migrate its outdated website to a new and more dynamic, cloud-based (Drupal) platform, including a content refresh for more approachable, manageable, readable and engaging content. After three months of design and development beginning in May 2022, the revamped website was launched on the morning of 19th September 2022 to great appreciation from CTBTO stakeholders.

In the Beginning
The UNICC team began development in May 2022 with an initial focus on both design and content migration from the old site to the new development site. The majority of the migration took place in May and early June. During this time, initial development work also took place on the main design template which allowed the UNICC team to hand over a partially built system to the CTBTO content team.

Under the Hood
The project included design content analysis, technical analysis and design, information architecture improvements, wireframes and mock-ups, project management and Drupal Content Management System. Development activities included:

  • Final UI/UX and Site design
  • Initial CMS platform setup
  • Data modeling for all content types
  • Development of dynamic pages
  • Creation of templates for static pages
  • Development of responsive theme (menus, layouts, components)
  • Full text search engine
  • SSO user authentication
  • Content workflow management
  • SEO support.

The project included cloud hosting infrastructure (in AWS) setup and configuration, CI/CD pipelines configuration and deployment automation as well as security risk assessments and audit.

Project scope included testing, UAT, migration activities, training, transition and release management, Go-live and Early lifecycle support, documentation (service guide) and project management. The project approach meant each sprint task was recorded in a Kanban board represented in the Jira ticket system; at the end of each sprint, UNICC presented a product demo that included all the newly completed tasks. The product increment provided after each iteration will be tested by the customer when operating normally.

Credit: CTBTO

When It Comes to Content
Many years of page-at-a-time publishing from a variety of authors and perspectives meant greater consistency and compliance to editorial guidelines was needed. UNICC hired and oversaw a content writer/editor whose role included rewriting content which needed to be transformed, rewritten and/or redesigned (from an information presentation perspective) with an eye to an appealing and dynamic look and feel. This also meant providing a friendly (and accurate) facelift for highly technical/programmatic information. The CTBTO content team was able to add and modify content over the summer months ahead of the September launch.

CTBTO Oversight and Inputs

Design workshops took place throughout May and June and were signed off shortly after a presentation was made to the CTBTO Executive Secretary during the third week of June.

Photo: CTBTO


Development work continued throughout the summer and the project was delivered in eight-week sprints and included all the deliverables set out in the multi-phase plan. There were several major user interface related change requests that came in late July and early August which were accommodated well by the team. The content team continued work on page content from May until launch ensuring that pages were either rewritten or edited accordingly with signoffs taking place for each page/section.

The joint CTBTO-UNICC team successfully delivered on the following aspects of this multi-phase project:

  • Production website with the described functionalities
  • Web Application UI/UX
  • Web content editing
  • Hosting environments in the UNICC Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud services
  • Website launch – Website Security Assessment – Assessment of the security requirements and controls, static and dynamic analysis, with penetration test of the web application before going live
  • Website Testing
  • Training of the CTBTO Project Team
  • Providing training materials
  • User manual and technical documentation for the CTBTO Project Team
  • Post go-live support.

Winning team, high quality deliverables and a bit of magic
UNICC delivered on time, in budget, with proactive professional responses in all aspects of delivery. The team met all deadlines to deliver the site for CTBTO’s 25th anniversary in September. The CTBTO team have reflected that project’s success demonstrates the value UNICC extends to its Clients and Partner Organizations. CTBTO affirms that UNICC will continue to be a strategic partner for digital business solutions.

Photo: CITES

CITES Goes Digital: A Cloud-based System for Tracking and Management of CITES Review of Significant Trade

UNICC delivers CITES RST Tracking and Management System for greater efficiency

UNICC launched a project with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in February 2020 to develop a system to track and manage a core CITES process with a cloud-based solution.

CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. This new system, designed, developed, hosted and managed by UNICC, optimizes CITES’ Review of Significant Trade (RST) procedures.

The CITES Review of Significant Trade (RST) procedure was designed to identify species that may be subject to unsustainable levels of international trade, and to identify problems and solutions concerning effective implementation of the Convention.

CITES Resolution Conf. 12.8

The RST process identifies species that may be subject to unsustainable levels of international trade, and identifies recommendations and solutions to address the issue. The system provides a database for tracking these RST cases. The importance of a properly developed and delivered RST Tracking and Management System is critical to CITES’ efforts to regulate the trade of wild animals and plants across borders between countries.

The value in UNICC’s delivery of the CITES RST Tracking and Management System is rooted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those concerned with biodiversity (Goals 14 and 15) and international partnerships (Goal 17).

Credit: CITES

The RST Tracking and Management System also serves as an essential tool helping CITES Parties to track the RST process and provides an easy-to-use platform for communication.

Key features
The RST Tracking and Management System includes a summary of the case details and status of all ongoing RST cases, any recommendations of the CITES Animals or Plants Committee (depending on the species) or the CITES Standing Committee directed to the Party concerned, and correspondence between that Party and the CITES Secretariat.

The system provides more transparency in the process and allows Parties, that are subject to the RST process, and other interested users, to track the status of recommendations and receive alerts on outstanding actions. It also provides a portal for Parties to communicate with the CITES Secretariat on progress in the implementation of these recommendations.

Credit: CITES

For the CITES RST system we followed a two-phased approach. The first phase focussed on detailed requirements-gathering, analysis and design. The system mock-ups and the proposed solution were presented to the stakeholders, including members of the Conference of the Parties (CoP). The second phase followed an Agile development process with excellent validation from the CITES Secretariat.

Gianluca Nuzzo, Application Delivery Team Lead, UNICC

The RST Tracking and Management System was developed using a ‘best-of-breed’ solution/technology approach and according to the chosen design. It utilizes widely-recognized, open-source solutions and frameworks selected for the specific requirements of the application. The system is presented in a user-friendly, modern and intuitive design. Explore the RST Tracking and Management system here: https://rst.cites.org/public.

About CITES

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Annually, international wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and to include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to a vast array of wildlife products derived from them, including food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, tourist curios and medicines.

Levels of exploitation of some animal and plant species are high and the trade in them, together with other factors, such as habitat loss, is capable of heavily depleting their populations and even bringing some species close to extinction. Many wildlife species in trade are not endangered, but the existence of an agreement to ensure the sustainability of the trade is important in order to safeguard these resources for the future.

Because the trade in wild animals and plants crosses borders between countries, the effort to regulate it requires international cooperation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation. CITES was conceived in the spirit of such cooperation. Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.

CITES is an international agreement to which States and regional economic integration organizations adhere voluntarily. States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention (‘joined’ CITES) are known as Parties. Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level. For many years CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest membership, with now 184 Parties.

Over 38,700 species – including roughly 5,950 species of animals and 32,800 species of plants – are protected by CITES against over exploitation through international trade. They are listed in three CITES Appendices. The species are grouped in the Appendices according to how threatened they are by international trade. They include some whole groups, such as primates, cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), sea turtles, parrots, corals, cacti and orchids. But in some cases, only a subspecies or geographically separate population of a species (for example the population of just one country) is listed.

Photo: UNICC

UNICC and UNHCR at the Stellar Meridian 2022 Blockchain Conference

UNICC was proud to participate in the Stellar Development Foundation’s Meridian 2022 Conference, called “The Urgency of Doing,” between 11-13 October in Rome, Italy. The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) is a non-profit organization supporting the development and growth of the open-source Stellar network that supports blockchain technology.

UNICC’s participation highlighted the collaboration between UNICC and UNHCR, to shed light on global development issues and how can blockchain technology help improve the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The distributed ledger or blockchain technology is revolutionary, allowing not only innovative solutions to existing business problems but creating new products and markets altogether. However, for the humanitarian relief sector, lack of tech in the last mile of digital delivery, to Persons of Concern (POC), remains the biggest block in adopting this at scale.

Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer, UNICC

Aid organizations rely on physical cash-assistance programs to deliver the hundreds of billions of dollars in aid disbursed each yea, and the need to scale these programs is growing. What if there was a way to disburse aid faster, more transparently, safely, and with fewer barriers at scale? UN Agencies need to open the door to a new way of thinking about delivering humanitarian aid.

The panel – meeting humanitarian needs through digital tools
Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer at UNICC spoke at the panel called “Meeting Humanitarian Need through Digital Tools” on 13 October, along with Denelle Dixon CEO of Stellar Development Foundation and Carmen Hett, Treasurer at UNHCR, who spoke about the broader use of technology in humanitarian delivery.

His presentation focused on challenges and opportunities that UNICC is facing in exploring the use of blockchain technology and digital currencies for payments to beneficiaries such as internally displaced populations (IDP) and refugees.

UNHCR works to safeguard the rights and well-being of people who have been forced to flee. Together with partners and communities, they work to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another country. This includes refugees, returnees, stateless people, the internally displaced and asylum-seekers. UNHCR’s protection, shelter, health and education has been crucial, healing broken pasts and building brighter futures. UNICC is a key partner to harness digital tools and transformations to successfully deliver aid.

One such digital tool for taking care of refugees is to give them financial aid called ‘cash-based intervention.’ Here, the collaboration between UNICC helps to deliver the blockchain and its digital wallets for refugee reimbursement through cash-based interventions. UNICC is providing the technical intelligence and knowledge on blockchain and associated technologies already, and now is experimenting with the Stellar network platform for optimized services.

Photo: UNICC

The conversations
There were good discussions with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), who was looking to learn more about block chain and Stellar and WFP’s Innovation Lab. What are the problems that the UN system is facing and what are the real gaps in some of the solutions it is embracing?

Shashank was able to contribute his tech and blockchain expertise in the UN system to the conversation, sharing the UNICC experience in implementing blockchain for digital identity across the UN family.

In addition to these questions, there was agreement that cross-border payments with blockchain can facilitate processing, reducing the cost of money movement and moving it expeditiously. Even instantaneously, while old school technologies might take 24 hours before a disbursement arrives in a beneficiary’s bank account.

It’s exceedingly difficult to predict when the next humanitarian crisis is going to take place. The most important thing is to be as ready as we can. Blockchain technology can make it amazingly easy and fast for UN Agencies to exchange financial and informational refugee data.

One of the other big challenges UNICC is looking to address is the difficulty of exchanging refugees’ data from one UN Agency to another (for example, from UNRWA and WFP), but with the swiftness, security and immutability of blockchain it can be done. Similarly, regarding the movement of funds, once funds are managed on the blockchain, people can relax about emergency situations. UN Agencies will be able to quickly move money, so from that point of view, this technology is really bringing efficiency.

Converting cryptocurrency to cash
What remains to be explored in-real-world situations is the ‘cash-out’ from digital wallets. While blockchain based platforms, may move monies at a lower cost and higher speed, eventually Persons of Concern have to ‘cash-out’ digital currency into ‘fiat’ for buying goods and services to meet their needs.

Cost-effective solutions are needed for this last-mile digital delivery. UNICC is supporting UNHCR in experimenting with the Stellar platform for Persons of Concern (POC), to convert the digital dollar (USDC Stable Coin) into fiat currency using services provided by MoneyGram.

This may seem trivial but has many issues as the commercial organisations have to deal with KYC/AML laws of different jurisdictions. For a cross-border refugee already under immense strain, the pay-out is not easy.

UNICC along with its partner humanitarian relief agencies continue to explore this area for cost-effective and digitally-inclusive solutions.

Photo: WTO

WTO Taps UNICC to Deliver its Integrated, Cost-efficient Service Management Solutions

ITSM and Enterprise Service Management with ServiceNow

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the global international organization that deals with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.

The digital transformation the WTO Secretariat is embarking on relies on how well the transformation contributes to its mandate and how this will function internally. Similar to other international organizations, WTO Members States expect the Secretariat to optimize the value they are getting from their contributions and to unleash the talent of its staff.

This is where WTO and UNICC began to collaborate, to help with greater efficiency through better service delivery, assessing and assisting with updating a ten-year old service management system sorely in need of updates to automated processes.

The need for the multilateral system to visibly help the world reach the SDGs and ride the existing crisis like COVID, Climate or Ukraine has never been so high. It needs a UNICC which delivers both reliable value for money IT services and agile digital innovative solutions. At 50, UNICC’s human force mixes the right balance between expertise and dynamism to chart an exciting course together.

Fabrice Boudou, Director of IT Solutions Division, World Trade Organization and Chair of the UNICC Management Committee

ServiceNow service management now
WTO is a long-time consumer of UNICC digital business solutions across the technology landscape. They were one of the first to leverage UNICC’s partnership with ServiceNow for end-to-end service management business needs in the cloud.

WTO ServiceNow interface. Credit: WTO

The UNICC ServiceNow solution, with full cloud security, UN system cost efficiencies through its strategic agreements and full business process support, allows organizations like WTO to digitize and automate siloed processes, dramatically improving the service management experience across the organization.

The platform optimizes processes, connects data and organizational entities and accelerates innovation at scale with a single platform for digital business. On top of this monitoring and reporting tools mean that WTO has metrics at their fingertips to meet indicators with quality performance data.

From WTO’s initial objective to migrate the legacy ITSM solution to a market leading solution like ServiceNow, UNICC has been the perfect partner to allow us to meet this objective. And to go far beyond. Going out on our own to manage such a project was not feasible in terms of budget nor resources necessary. The UNICC ServiceNow team has filled the missing gap. With UNICC, a fast and efficient path became available to migrate the legacy solution and improve many ITSM processes while providing valuable additional data invisible before but critical for ITSM governance.

Ronald Jans, Head of IT Services Branch
WTO ServiceNow data monitoring. Credit: WTO

Benefits and features of the new system include:

  • Incident management
  • Request fulfillment
  • Knowledge management
  • CMDB and configuration management
  • Centralized service catalog and its management
  • Problem management
  • Change management
  • Asset management
  • Portal for end users
  • Workflow automation (approvals, delivery)
  • Measurement of SLAs
  • Reports and dashboard.

WTO had UNICC come on in 2021 to begin the process of upgrading the service management support ecosystem. The IT division was an obvious place to start, with its global support of the organization with its service management and help desk. The legacy system was replaced with the ServiceNow cloud platform immediately putting an end to manual and duplicative processes, even managing service issues through emails.

The UNICC ServiceNow team played a key role in supporting and guiding the WTO team all along, during the analysis and development of the solution, at times challenging existing practices, so as to identify where processes could be improved. UNICC also committed resources at a substantial level to ensure the WTO Service Centre team were comfortable and confident to hit the ground running once WTO’s ServiceNow went live. This contributed to the WTO Service Centre team’s being fully on board ahead of implementation and was a strong factor in its success.

Colette O’Byrne, Systems and Operations Engineer

The UNICC team first started working on the deployment of ServiceNow for other Clients in 2020, in line with current best practices and industry standards. This framework can be replicated, tailored and implemented for any other UN Agencies. The platform was designed, configured, and deployed so that WTO, as with others, could easily integrate the framework for its own ITSM frameworks.

The project involved:

  • Assessing the environment and sharing requirements
  • Setting up a portal for end users
  • Providing a centralized service catalog
  • Ensuring workflow automation of approvals and delivery
  • Measuring SLAs
  • Streamlining the incident management process
  • Ensuring request fulfillment and knowledge management processes
  • Migrating existing data and business processes replication
  • Overseeing CMDB and configuration management as well as service catalog management processes
  • Integrating problem management and change management modules.
WTO ServiceNow ticket resolution data. Credit: WTO

Development work continued throughout the second half of 2021 and the project was delivered in six months, having the go-live on January 2022, including all of the deliverables set out in the multi-phase plan. WTO is further developing its ITSM practice by building a configuration management database (CMdB )with its associated processes.

UNICC’s professional requirements analysis, documentation and project management practices ensured success, with ongoing coordination, follow-up meeting and effective and open communication channels. The two teams were then able to validate and meet WTO’s expectations, with timely and successful delivery of expected services.

WTO is gradually extending ITSM to Enterprise Service Management. They have and are still integrating other service delivery areas such as HR, Facilities, and Language services into ServiceNow, copying the success of the ITSM implementation, combined with an internal strategy of working towards a central Service Management facility for any user request or issue – the same tool for all and the same team to coordinate for all. In areas of service management and delivery, when addressing new demands, this has led to WTO adopting a “ServiceNow first” approach – considering at the outset if ServiceNow could be the best-fit solution.

Coupled with a procurement effort to source the service centre from a lower cost base, WTO is well on the way to a real digital transformation in how internal business solutions and services are delivered to its staff.

WTO was adaptive, flexible and keen to replicate the successes seen at UNICC from the ServiceNow platform. UNICC has helped in this way to establish ServiceNow as a leading industry platform for IT and asset management processes for the UN family.

Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

UNICC at International Day of the Girl 2022

UNICC partnered with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, Infosys Foundation USA, and Micro:bit Educational Foundation to host a special, in-person event on 13 October to celebrate International Day of the Girl 2022, bringing together 70 women and girls in science, technology and/or innovation at Infosys Foundation USA HQ in New York City. The theme of International Day of the Girl 2022 is “Our time is now– our rights, our future.”

As the International day of the Girl celebrates its tenth anniversary, this collaborative event focuses attention on the momentous achievements and progress for girls across the world and more crucially, reaffirms the commitments of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. In these last ten years, there has been increased attention on issues that matter to girls among governments, policymakers and the general public, with increasing opportunities for girls to have their voices heard on the global stage.

It was incredibly energizing to work with such dedicated and caring individuals who are truly committed to providing young students with the confidence, skills, and mentorship they need to launch successfully into the future.  All of the pieces came together, and the students benefited tremendously. Some of them spoke in front of a large group for the first time in their lives, and now that they have ventured outside of their comfort zones, the next time they have to speak in front of a large group of strangers, the hurdle will be a little lower.

Dr. Joann Halpern, Design Thinking Facilitator and Director, Hasso Plattner Institute

Agenda 2022

The event convened girls and women from the private sector, the UN, NGOs and academia to meet and be inspired by one another, participate in fun ice-breaker activities, discuss the themes of International Day of the Girl and engage in a science/technology/innovation-related hands-on activity. 

The program primarily featured a design thinking session designed and facilitated by Lee Kim and Dr. Joann Halpern, in close collaboration with Katie Henry from the Micro:bit Educational Foundation. 

The event began with welcoming remarks by Katherine Maloney, Executive Director, Infosys Foundation USA, and Ursula Wynhoven, the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Representative to the United Nations. Both emphasized the importance of celebrating innovation in the process of implementing the SDGs and continuing to highlight the contributions of girls and women in the science and technology spaces globally. Infosys Foundation USA colleagues shared advice for the girls to follow their dreams, to not allow for anyone to define their limitations and to recognize their experiences as valuable.

Credit: ITU and UNICC

Empathy and design thinking

Next, facilitators Lee Kim, Dr. Joann Halpern and Katie Henry provided an introduction to design thinking. Design thinking, which the facilitators described as a team-based method to solve complex problems that are human centered, is an iterative and collaborative process that girls and women would try in practice that afternoon.

There were so many amazing ideas. What really touched my heart was that I could feel that they really cared about the person that they designed for. And that is what leaders do. They care. They care enough to do something.

Lee Kim, Design Thinking Facilitator

Dr. Halpern provided an example of how Doug Dietz, an Innovation Architect at the Health Department of General Electric, sought to redesign the MRI machine after realizing that the machine experience was incredibly terrifying for children during hospital visits. The key idea the facilitators emphasized for design thinking is that empathy is fundamental to designing an experience or product that is helpful and useful for users.

Photo: UNICC/ Ouyang

With girls and women mentors in science, technology and/or innovation seated in groups they began to work on their hands-on design thinking activity. Their first design challenge was for each participant to build a duck out of six pieces of Lego with a time constraint.

The main takeaway for many of the girls was that their designed ducks were all unique and different. Thus, when it comes to engaging in the design process, creativity and curiosity can only be fostered without judgment and with an appreciation for the uniqueness that each individual brings to a potential solution.

Craft and design thinking

For the rest of the design thinking activity, the girls were tasked with how they might leverage technology to ensure a better life for other girls. Both the girls and women mentors were presented with three stories about challenges young girls were facing.

After deciding which story to focus the solution on, girls and mentors could incorporate the use of a micro:bit (a pocket-sized computer that makes learning coding easy and fun) to bring their ideas to life.

The groups carried out their design thinking activity using a variety of craft materials to make a model and also discussed how the micro:bit technology could be used to make their model more powerful.

Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

Each group then had a representative that shared back with the full group on what their group had discussed. Solutions included:

  • An application that recommends friends and those in one’s network to a translating service to help mitigate loneliness
  • A virtual room that fosters feeling of comfort and connection with family members
  • A website to stop bullying by stories of those who went through bullying
  • An alerting mechanism via Micro:bit to alert trusted authorities at schools and adults to stop bullying
  • An information system for one to choose to be someone else or be yourself and experience life from different perspective.
Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

The event culminated with a group photo and an ice cream social that opened the space for attendees to conduct office hours with Infosys mentors. All student attendees received their own micro:bit to keep and were invited to socialize as well as to chat with Infosys mentors who were ready to support the girls with coding their micro:bit for the solutions they designed during the design thinking activity.

The event was well-received by attendees and provided a day filled with inspiration and empowerment for facilitators, mentors, teachers, students, and colleagues at partner organizations alike. The commemoration of the tenth anniversary of IDG is a continual reminder that while significant progress has been made for girls’ rights across the world, investments in girls’ rights remain limited and girls continue to confront a myriad of challenges to fulfilling their potential.

This has especially been made worse by concurrent crises of climate change, COVID-19 and humanitarian conflicts. Girls around the world continue to face unprecedented challenges to their education, their physical and mental wellness, and the protections needed for a life without violence.

Now more than ever, it is necessary to continue bringing girls and women into the conversation to address the existing inequalities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and to focus on how their perspectives within the technology spaces can help to amplify progress as well as SDG implementation.

Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

The event was made possible and in collaboration with colleagues from ITU, WIPO, NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, Infosys Foundation USA, and Micro:bit Educational Foundation.